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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Fri Mar 21, 2014 7:35 pm 
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Location: HAMPSHIRE UK
Award: Sighting of the Year - Small creatures and/or insects (2012)
22nd November

We were up and ready for 4.30am this morning - quite an achievement for us these days! Our plan had been to do a short drive, come back to cook a good breakfast and then take our time driving up to Shingwedzi. First problem? We had no power so had to ditch making up a flask of hot coffee and it was feeling a bit cool. Never mind, we thought, hopefully it would be all be sorted out when we returned for breakfast.

Heading out down the Phala Gate road we soon met up with a group of Wildebeest and then 3 Hyenas. Past a small herd of Zebra and then found a single male Lion.

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He was close to the area where we had sat with the pride yesterday but we could see no sign of any of them today. Hopefully they had been lucky and had a successful hunt in the night – they had certainly looked in sore need of a good meal.

Looping back along the S131 we spotted a Wahlberg’s Eagle

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and then more Zebras, one of which was a young foal with hiccups which made us smile.

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Otherwise it was all quiet and we did a quick run up to the Letaba Bridge and found Hippos, Egrets and Goliath Heron.

Back at camp our hopes of electrical reconnection were dashed but one of the staff advised that a different part of the camp did actually have power so off I wandered, food and utensils in hand, to try and cook some eggs and bacon. Having found a community kitchen, I got myself organised and turned on the hot plate. Is it just me or are some of these hotplates only half working? Although the light came on, confirming that the power was actually working here, the plates just did not seem to heat up beyond luke-warm and it took almost an hour to produce a decidedly shabby looking breakfast. SO had meanwhile loaded up the car and thought I had either got lost or got chatting and forgotten about the time. It was a struggle to get things washed up and put away ready for the next occupants of our hut – we were almost reduced to cleaning the plates with wet wipes! Finally we had to pack up all our food from the fridge and freezer – having done a big shop at Phala ready for our trip north, we had left everything in the fridge until the last minute in the hope that it would not defrost to the point that we would have to thrown some of it away.

With a wave goodbye to Letaba, we headed north up the tar spotting Elephant, Ostrich,

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European Roller, Wattled Starlings, a Bull Ellie

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and his askari and Wildebeest. We took a short detour down to Shipandani Hide where Black Crake,

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Burchell’s Coucal,

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Three-banded Plovers and a large Crocodile were right alongside the causeway. We would have loved to sit with the Croc for longer but we could see a couple of cars approaching behind us and we did not wish to cause a queue. From the Hide we could see Coucal, 2 Black Kites and a Fish Eagle flying overhead.

Conscious of the journey still to go, we did not spend too long in the Hide and headed up to Mopani camp for a comfort break and a badly needed brunch. Both the food and service were good and we enjoyed Fish Eagles

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and Darters

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flying out across the Dam as we were seated by a window overlooking the Dam.

The road north was very quiet, just a few Buffalo and, sadly, a dead Spitting Cobra in the road. We arrived at Shingwedzi much earlier than anticipated so well before permitted check-in time. However, we were still concerned about the food we had in the car and popped into reception to ask if there was any chance of having access to ‘our’ fridge even if the accommodation was not ready. We explained about the lack of power at Letaba and the receptionist was amazingly helpful. She went out to check and came back with our keys and said our bungalow was ready and we were very welcome to go and put everything away there. What a star! Not only that but we found we had been allocated our absolute favourite bungalow in Kruger, the last one along the Back Gate road, number 27.

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There is just so much room here...and it has a double bed! It was the first bungalow we had stayed in on our very first stay at Shingwedzi. It has space, it’s next to the back fence and has a couple of trees close to the stoep so you are guaranteed lots of birds on the doorstep.

Once the car was unloaded and everything found a place in our ‘new home’, we sat on the stoep and soaked up the atmosphere with a cold beer in hand. After reading and hearing about all the devastation which had taken place here, we were so relieved that the camp had been rebuilt and we could spend more quality time here. It is such a peaceful camp – a main camp but almost with the feel of a bush camp.

When we had driven along the road from the main tar into the camp earlier, we had already noticed what a huge difference the flooding had made to the river bed and that so many of those wonderful big trees alongside the banks had been wiped out by the water. Although tired, we decided we must make a short drive out before Gate closure as we were curious to see what other changes had happened nearby. Just pausing on the causeway, we could see how much smoother the river bed had become and fewer places for wading birds to fish in the large puddles. Still, there is always plenty to see in the area and we drove slowly around the small loops of roads close to the camp. Several large Bull Elephants on their way down or back from the river bed,

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Yellow-billed Stork,

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Bushbuck,

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Baboons, a small Nyala family,

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Waterbuck, Vultures

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and Hippos

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were all about to welcome us back in the north. Time, though, to head back to camp and light up the braai and raise a glass in grateful thanks to another great day in the Park.

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http://www.sanparks.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=27&t=77459Our 2013 Trip Report
... and how I miss being back in the KNP.


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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Sat Mar 22, 2014 5:39 pm 
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Award: Sighting of the Year - Small creatures and/or insects (2012)
23rd November

We awoke to a clear sky and a chilly 16 degrees (yes, I know we’re Brits but I love the heat)! One of the joys of this bungalow is the inside kitchen so I have lots of space to get our coffee flask made up and find something for munchies when we stop on our morning drive..and no chance of the vervets pinching things either. Our plan was to take the main road north as far as Babalala Picnic Site and then return to camp via the S56. Along the tar we founds Giraffe, Vultures, Steenbok, a Secretary Bird,

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Zebra and 2 Kori Bustards.

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Both the Bustards and Secretary Bird are always on my ‘hope to see list’ – we have always been lucky with the latter when in the north but I have, on occasions, been known to drive round and round trying to find a Kori Bustard before we go home.

After a quick pit stop at Babalala we turned south always on the lookout for those huge Ellies which seem to hang around along this road. I am not a great fan of reversing but have had to practice it on several occasions when driving down the S56. Having found Buffalo and Kudu we eventually came upon one of the big tuskers opting for the easy route and reverse gear became the safest option again. Parts of this road are so narrow and don’t always leave much room for manoeuvre.

Eventually we found a nice spot overlooking a waterhole in the river bed and we stopped for our coffee break.

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It was a fairly quiet morning but a few creatures paused to greet us – Ground Hornbill, Woodland Kingfishers, Vultures, Dwarf Mongoose, Nyala, Saddle-billed Stork, Wahlberg’s Eagle

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and a Tawny Eagle.

Back to camp for a well-earned breakfast which we ate out on the stoep. Luckily the temperature had risen considerably to a pleasant 29 degrees. Having quickly washed up the plates and dishes, we were back in the car and heading south towards Kanniedood. Now we could really see what a difference the floods had made to the area – still plenty of water which now flowed without restriction but leaving all too few spots for the smaller birds and waders to feed. Still lots to see though with Cape Glossy Starling, Vervets, Buffalo, Hammerkop, Bushbuck,Ground Hornbill and a large breeding herd of Ellies.

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At Kanniedood Dam, which had been seriously damaged,

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a few more birds – Yellow-billed Stork,

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Marabou and a Little Bee-eater.

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On the road back to camp Greater Egret, Open-billed Storks, Fish Eagle,

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Woolly-necked Stork,

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Nyala, several more herds of Elephant, Hippos,

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Waterbuck and Saddle-billed Stork.

This evening we had booked a sunset drive and were surprised to find just the 2 of us and 1 other guest. Good job this was not Satara as they would probably have refused to go out with so few. We have certainly never been let down at Shingwedzi and, thinking back, have gone out on several occasions with ourselves as the only guests on the drive. It was, however, one of the quietest drives we have ever been on but we had plenty of time to chat with the guide about the camp recovery after the flood and just to sit out in the bush and soak up the atmosphere. Looking at our photos for the night, we only have a scrub hare

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and a chameleon

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– that probably sums it up! Recalling our sunset drive out from Satara where no cats were to be seen, same again tonight. This was definitely a rarity for us here as we couldn’t recall ever doing a Shing sunset or night drive with no cats before.

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http://www.sanparks.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=27&t=77459Our 2013 Trip Report
... and how I miss being back in the KNP.


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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Sat Mar 29, 2014 5:56 pm 
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Award: Sighting of the Year - Small creatures and/or insects (2012)
24th November

Our plan for today was to drive up to Crooks Corner and this left SO time to get organised whilst I packed up food and drinks for the whole day. We were on the road by 5.50 am, the sky was clear and the temperature still a pretty cool 18 degrees. It was a very productive drive along the tar as we headed north. Firstly a Fish Eagle,

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then Saddle-billed Stork, a Red-crested Korhaan in display flight,

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Grey Heron, Zebra,

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3 female Ostriches, a solitary Black-backed Jackal

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and not long afterwards 2 more BBJs, a large herd of Zebras, 2 Kori Bustards,

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Black Kite and a Bataleur......and we had only driven as far as Babalala!

After a quick pit stop at the picnic site, we sat watching a Bull Elephant making his way to the nearby waterhole but could not stop for too long as we had quite a way still to drive. Passing another Bataleur and a Hammerkop along the road,

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we stopped at Magamba Waterhole for our coffee break. It was very quiet but just lovely to sit and listen to the birds singing and soak up the magic atmosphere of the Park.

Moving on we took the S58, no wildlife about this morning but we stopped to look at a stunning tree covered in big red flowers. Hopefully someone will know the name of this tree – afraid we are not very knowledgeable with the names of much African flora although we try to learn a few more each trip. Sorry the image isn’t great.

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Along the Punda Gate road we found Giraffe, Elephant, Wahlberg’s Eagle, Cape Glossy Starling

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and jumped when a female Nyala decided to bound across the road in front of us.

Turning onto the S60 a Zebra carcass was covered in Vultures – Lappet-faced,

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White-backed and Hooded.

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They are so interesting to watch as they interact around their ‘breakfast table’.

Taking the sand road past Klopperfontein we stopped to watch a group of Terrapins. Another car stopped to chat with us and we learnt that there had been a pride of lions here for several days with a large kill but it looked as if they had returned back to the bush and were nowhere to be seen today. Back on the tar heading north, a Brown Snake Eagle was close to the road.

Turning down Nyala Drive we could see how much difference the last floods had made – trees well and truly flattened and general bush debris strewn everywhere. Even the Nyalas were in hiding, just 2 females looked up as we crept along the track. From the H1-9 bridge we could see 2 big Bull Ellies moving along the river bank and lots of water flowing in the Luvuvhu.

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With tums rumbling we drove to Pafuri Picnic Site and were very pleased to see Frank and chat with him. Keeping an active lookout for those thieving Vervets we sat on a bench overlooking the river to eat our brunch.

Lots of Nyala out and about,

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more Zebras, 3 Ellies, a Vulture who, sadly, appeared to be dying and soon we were at Crooks Corner. Again we could see the flood damage and so many of the shrubs and bushes which had been close to the fence had been swept away so there were considerably less places for the birds to sit and rest. A few Little Bee Eaters were about, also Fish Eagle

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and Black Kite and, of course, lots of large crocodiles. I find this location fascinating – it has an atmosphere all of its own. If I had the talent I’d love to write a short story set in this spot.

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Heading back to the tar to make our way back to camp we paused to take photos of something somewhat different – the power lines which stretch across from Mozambique. They are shaped so oddly, at least to us, and being an engineer SO is always curious about such things. One of our neighbours at home works in the power industry and we wanted to ask him why they are constructed so differently. However, back to the birds and animals on our journey back south – a charming Ostrich group – 2 males, 2 females and lots of chicks

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– lots of Elephants and a big group at Boyela tank,

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Giraffe, a large herd of Buffalo,

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Vultures and a Tawny Eagle

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http://www.sanparks.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=27&t=77459Our 2013 Trip Report
... and how I miss being back in the KNP.


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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Sat Mar 29, 2014 9:01 pm 
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Award: Sighting of the Year - Small creatures and/or insects (2012)
Thank you again everybody. We are so pleased you are enjoying our journey. I apologise for not answering to everyone - have been so busy lately and we really wanted to get our TR on here considerably sooner than we did for the previous trip.

Anne catherine - Crooks Corner - I know it just shows on the Kruger map as just a lookout point but we have always got out of the car here and, to the best of my knowledge, so does everyone else. The picture is actually a panorama shot (ie several shots stitched together) as we really wanted to show just how much difference there has been after the floods last year. There used to lots of shrubs and bushes very close to the fence rails but the water has broken them all down and I guess they are somewhere lost in Mozambique now. It makes Crooks Corner look very open and exposed and the river was just flowing in a continuous line and not showing all those sandbanks as before. Although we could see plenty of big crocodile around, when we stopped that day, we could not see any of the big Hippo pods which we had enjoyed the previous year. Perhaps this will change again and I will look out for other TRs who went here to see what wildlife they found.

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http://www.sanparks.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=27&t=77459Our 2013 Trip Report
... and how I miss being back in the KNP.


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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Sun Mar 30, 2014 2:08 pm 
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Award: Sighting of the Year - Small creatures and/or insects (2012)
25th November

We awoke to another clear sky, quickly made up our coffee flask and some munchies and headed out of camp to try our luck along the Red Rocks road. It was pretty quiet along the first tar section and at Red Rocks itself another couple told us they had spotted a leopard earlier but he appeared to have moved off now. We always drive along these roads when we are staying at Shingwedzi but have never seen anything particularly exciting at Red Rocks. Our luck has always been when driving along the S52 the other side of the river. We scoured every little bush with our binoculars but this elusive cat was definitely not planning to appear for us. Back in the car we began the long drive along both sides of the river spotting Baboons, Waterbuck, Vultures, Bataleur,

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Zebras, a Sharpes Grysbok (probably the best sighting we have ever had of one and really close to us),

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Warthogs, Grey Heron, Hammerkop, Pied Kingfisher, Egyptian Geese,

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a journey of Giraffe (9), Bushbuck

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and a pair of Saddle-billed Storks.

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Back along the tar Buffalo,

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Zebra, Hippos, Ellies

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and a Black Kite. Isn’t it just amazing what you can find on a morning drive even before breakfast! We were certainly ready for a plate of eggs and bacon which we enjoyed on the stoep.

This would be our last full day in the north and we wanted to drive down past Kanniedood Dam again. We really missed being able to spend time at the Hide but it was still closed after the flood damage. I do hope it will soon be repaired as it has been sorely missed by everyone. A nice group of Tsessebe (4 adult and 2 juveniles)

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kept us company for a while, then several groups of Kudu.

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Along the river Hammerkop, lots of Open-billed Storks

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and Waterbuck.

We were lucky to find a spot along the river where we could see quite a way in both directions. So much water flowing that meant we saw few waders here but an interesting scenario with a dead Hippo floating in the water

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and an ever growing number of Crocodiles in attendance. I doubt it would be long before they had started to feed on the carcass. Further along the river a large breeding herd of Ellies were making their way across to our side of the bank.

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We love to watch the Ellies interact but were anxious not to be too close to them when they left the water – some parts of this road are very narrow and I really did not want to get caught in the middle of the herd. They had lots of youngsters and the Matriarch would be very careful to keep them safe. We moved on to another spot by the river and were delighted to see a new bird for us – a Grey-headed Kingfisher who was displaying like mad to attract a mate and got pushed off his perch for his troubles.

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Spring was definitely in the air for him this morning. On the way back to camp we found Kudu and Egyptian Geese, along with 3 Buff (Dagga boys). One car stopped to tell us they had been watching a Crocodile/Antelope kill from the Shingwedzi High water bridge but there was nothing to see when we stopped there before returning to our bungalow.

When SO went in for a siesta, I poured out a cold beer and sat on the stoep to watch the birds. Shing camp is one of the best for birdwatching in my humble opinion. It was amazing just how much passed in front of me as I sat quietly – Cape Glossy Starlings (a fascinating pair who were actively nesting),

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Mourning Dove, Red-billed Hornbill, Grey Hornbill, Golden-tailed Woodpecker, Blue Waxbills, Red-billed Wood Hoopoe, Sparrows, Black-headed Orioles and Crested Barbet. Not to be outdone, these were joined by Skinks,

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Water Monitor,

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Vervets and Baboons. We were so sorry we would be leaving this camp in the morning. But tonight the braai was fired up with potatoes and mealies ...

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and the steaks were on.

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http://www.sanparks.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=27&t=77459Our 2013 Trip Report
... and how I miss being back in the KNP.


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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Mon Mar 31, 2014 2:36 pm 
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Thought you would all enjoy our Shingwedzi time. We were so appreciative that it had been repaired in time for our trip as it is one of our favourite camps in Kruger. I sometimes think people have a favourite camp because of its location (Satara maybe) or Olifants because of the incredible view but Shingwedzi always, for us, has a brilliant balance of both. As you have seen, you find amazing wildlife actually in camp as well as having exciting roads to drive along in every direction from camp. For our first trips into Kruger (our very first trip was in 2000) we only stayed in central and southern camps. Then we met someone who was well into birdwatching and she thought we should try Shing as she thought it would suit us. On the very next trip, we duly booked some time at Shingwedzi and have included time here on every trip since..even if we did not spot a single kitty cat throughout the 4 days we were here. C'est la vie! The Sharpes Grysbok we were thrilled with and finding the displaying Grey-headed Kingfisher (as well as the Korhaans) gave us the tile for our TR.

Unsure why my name has changed from Carol to Andrea though??? Just a slip on the keyboard maybe.

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http://www.sanparks.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=27&t=77459Our 2013 Trip Report
... and how I miss being back in the KNP.


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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2014 11:34 am 
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26th November

The wildlife was up and about when we got up. With skinks,

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Mourning Dove,

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Grey-headed Bush Shrike (a new one to us)

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and Golden-tailed Woodpecker

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going about their business.

We took our time to get packed up, cook breakfast and load up the car, finally getting on the road at 8.30am. Taking the tar road south we passed some Buffalo in the river, waited a while for a Bull Ellie to move away from the road,

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watched a herd of Zebra grazing and paused for a group of Tsessebe

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and then Waterbuck before stopping for a coffee break at the Shidlayengwenya lookout point.

After a pit stop at Mopani we passed Elephant and Buffalo, then noted a Ellie skull close to the road

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and took the turn to check out Shipandani Hide. From the hide we could see Hippos and some Waterbuck and at the causeway 2 Black Crake were keeping their distance from the big Crocodile we had seen a few days ago as we briefly diverted from our journey to the north.

We had plenty of time to get to our next camp and decided to try the S49/S50 route via Mooiplaas watering point. Sometimes we have been lucky with the rarer antelope along these roads but not today. However, we were entertained by several Elephant (both solitary bulls and small herds) Zebra and Wildebeest protecting each others interests, a small herd of Buff, a pair of Ostrich

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and a family of Warthogs.

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Now back on the main road, south a large herd of Buff were sheltering under the trees,

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a big breeding herd of Ellies

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and a European Roller.

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On the Letaba bridge we got out to stretch our legs and found Waterbuck, Hippos,

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A sleeping Croc,

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and Spoonbills busy in the river bed.

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Making our way along the river we spotted Greater Egret, Yellow-billed Stork,

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Pied Kingfisher and a Wahlberg’s Eagle.

We popped into Letaba camp for a comfort break and to pick up a few items of shopping, pleased to see a Crested Barbet close to our car as we loaded up our purchases.

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Torn between taking the sand roads or the main road south, we opted to keep to the tar but it was extremely quiet and it did not take long to reach our next camp, Olifants.

Although we had booked a rondavel with a view, you never know whether it will be a partial river view or one of those deliciously low numbers where the vista is just fabulous.

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Today our luck was well and truly in – we had been allocated number 4 (at least I think it was number 4 – we forgot to make a note in our trip diary) and I have a question which I hope someone will be able to answer. It is the hut which has the enormous braai construction, right next to the fence.

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Not the normal braai stand but one on which you could probably cater for a whole host of huts. Did there used to be a larger family bungalow here and it was constructed to cater for them?
I know we took a photo so that we could ask on the forum. We have never seen anything similar at any other camp so guess it is very much a one-off. Anyway, we were thrilled with our allocation and, as soon as we had unloaded the car, settled ourselves down on the stoep, drink in hand and investigated the riverbed through our ‘bins’. It was a warm 35 degrees and we sat soaking up our surroundings for several hours. Even when we had lit up our braai, we sat watching a fantastic lightning storm work its way across the park.

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... and how I miss being back in the KNP.


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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Sat Apr 12, 2014 2:41 pm 
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28th November

We were on the move again today – moving south to Skukuza – but this is such a rich area for wildlife that we were up early and on the road before 5am. So many roads we could try today and always that excitement in anticipation of what might lay ahead for us. Pausing to drop off our keys in the box, we headed down the hill with a Black Kite overhead for company. Shortly after turning left at the T junction with the main road, we saw a car stopped ahead. We could see nothing and drew up alongside them to ask what (if anything) we were missing. They had seen a Leopard moving back into the bush but we only glimpsed a flash of its tail and hindquarters as it moved way back into the scrub. Whilst we do not have a set wish list, we were somewhat disappointed that this was the closest we had come to any Leopard sighting since we had been in the Park. We recalled our conversation with Flying Cheetah as we had left Satara almost 2 weeks ago and who had said he had found no Leopard for 2 weeks. Not just you then FC. Our spotted friends were definitely in hiding this trip! Not to worry, Giraffe and a Bataleur were about to wish us ‘Good morning’.

We stopped at the high water bridge, keeping an eye on the Baboon troop assembled at the end of the bridge

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and spotted a Yellow-billed Stork and a Hippo out of the water along the river bed.

Moving onwards another Red-crested Korhaan was out and about and then we arrived at the Hyena den where we found a mother and pups.

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Not so long down the road we found another den with yet another Hyena and 2 pups.

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Keeping to the tar road, lots to keep us interested as we headed south – Ellies, Zebra, a Wildebeest herd with young calves,

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Warthogs, Kudu and a Wildebeest kill now feeding Black-backed Jackals and several types of Vulture.

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A large Tusker was keeping close to the camp fence as we pulled into Satara for a brief comfort break. Back on the road we turned down along the Orpen road as we planned to stop at Nsemani Dam for our coffee break this morning. Lots of action in the area, a large group of Marabou Storks ( 12 in total),

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Bull Elephant, Hippos, Waterbuck,

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Fish Eagle, Zebra, Wildebeest, Impala and Vervets. We love this location and have been so lucky here. It is one of those places where you can just sit and wait, something interesting always comes here.

Time to move on and we turned around to head back eastwards to the main north/south road and then, for sure this was an inspired choice today, turned onto the S100. Just a few kilometres down the road we spotted movement ahead and were thrilled to find 3 male Cheetahs.

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Two Cheetahs by WildImageSANP, on Flickr

They were definitely out on the hunt for a meal and we were privileged to watch them work their way along a route keeping parallel to the road but about 30 metres back in the bush. Whilst we did not see them make a kill, we tracked them for quite a while as they went hunting. What a thrill they gave us as we watched them interact. Eventually they moved well away from the road and we could not see them but, creeping along, we almost missed the snake (tentatively identified as a Rhombic Egg-eater Snake) who was crossing the track.

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A few kilometres on, we found 3 young male Lions – well, this is Lion Alley after all!!

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Later 4 male Kudu, another trio of Waterbuck and a solitary Wildebeest. Then 2 Lionesses, a juvenile male Lion and a cub.

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What a fantastic morning this was for us. It might be our last drive along the S100 this trip but for certain we would not forget what the area had delivered.

At the T junction ahead, we turned south towards N’wanetsi – not to be outdone by the S100, we found Giraffe, Baboons, a young Crocodile

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and a Baby Croc,

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Yellow-billed Stork, Goliath Heron and Grey Heron. As all my family will confirm, I love Crocs so these two youngsters were really special sightings for me.

At the main junction with the tar road to N’wanetsi we turned westwards and, again, so much to see today – Giraffe, Zebra, Wildebeest, a pair of Ostrich, 3 Lionesses

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and a small herd of Buffalo.

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At the H1-3 we turned south, spotting a Brown Snake Eagle, 4 Black-backed Jackals (we saw more Jackals than we have ever seen before on this trip. Often we may only see one or two but we saw huge numbers this time. What a joy), then a group of Vultures on the ground – Lappet, White-headed, Cape and White-backed – but could see no kill that had brought them together. A large herd of Buffalo captured our attention and we stopped to watch the Hippo and Waterbuck at Kumana Dam.

Continuing south, we found a traffic accident ahead where a Bakkie had rolled. We understand it was to avoid an animal but I suspect he had been driving too fast to stop. A SANP vehicle was in attendance but the driver had hurt his arm and we were carrying full medical kit so we stopped to dress his injuries before he could be taken to more specialised medical facilities.

We stopped at Tshokwane for a pit stop and coffee. It had been a very eventful morning so far and we needed to calm down before continuing our journey. As always the Vervets and Baboons were making a thorough nuisance of themselves.

Time to get back in the car, a small herd of Ellies were close to the road as we headed south. At Leeupan we found Giraffe, Woolly-necked Stork,

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Striped Cuckoo (another first for us)

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and 2 Eagles – Juvenile Bataleur and Wahlbergs.

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The road was now quiet but when we got closer to the Sabie River, the sighting increased – Wahlbergs Eagle,

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Thick-billed Weaver, Hippos, White-fronted Cormorant, Pied Kingfisher,

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Blacksmiths Plover and a Crocodile.

By the time we reached Skukuza, it was late enough to be able to check in. I must admit that , in the past, we have tended to avoid this camp as it is so large. However, the last few visits have been much better than imagined and, when all the day visitors, have gone, it can be a really quiet camp. We had been allocated number 102 and it was excellent. We unloaded the car, looked at our watches, and, yes, we could just get a quick trip down to Lake Panic before Gate closure.

When we had passed here on our way up north, there was no time to pop into the Hide and this would be our first visit this trip. We are always so excited to see what is about and nesting or whatever. This afternoon we found Darter, Cormorant,

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Goliath Heron,

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Egyptian Geese and their goslings,

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Lesser-masked Weavers, Grey Herons, Black Crake, Jacana,

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Water Dikkop,

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Fish Eagle, Hadeda Ibis, Greater Egret,

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Hippo and Thick-billed Weaver.

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This is one location you really cannot just drive past!!
We stopped at the Hyena den on the way back to camp and had views of the babies again and a juvenile.

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Time passing and we needed to get back before Gate closure – we were also getting very hungry and a braai needed to be lit. For the icing on the cake, as we sat on the stoep after enjoying our dinner, we were visited by a Thick-tailed Bushbaby.

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This had really been a truly amazing day.

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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Sat Apr 12, 2014 9:09 pm 
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Huge apology for another delayed reply. I have been away for a few days helping a friend cook for a large summer party - we cook everything in April and then freeze it ready for a summer event. However, I had written up a few more days before leaving so that SO could put it together with the photos and submit it during the week.

Looking back it was an amazing few days. We were really lucky. As I said, a few new species for us and the Grey-headed Bush Shrike was so colourful.

Thank you for the info about the huge braai at Olifants. Certainly we have never come across anything similar at any other camp.

The Cheetahs were incredible - some trips we see none at all but this time we had our best sightings ever. You just never know.

I hope our notes about Skukuza will help those who may have avoided the camp before. It is huge and always so busy during the day BUT, once all the day visitors have left, it is really quiet at night. The Bushbaby was very special. They have never come so close to us before and we were very excited when they came right down to our table. Another plus for us is that it seems to have fewer problems with Vervets and Baboons than lots of the other camps. Unless others have had a different experience of course.

The only downside to writing up our TR is that we realise just how much we are missing being away. Somehow I think we will have another trip booked before we get to the end!

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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2014 2:43 pm 
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29th November

Despite our exhausting day yesterday, we managed to get up and out for a morning drive just after 4.30am. It had rained heavily overnight and the air was very cool so plenty of layers were needed to keep warm. We paused briefly at the Hyena den, wished a friendly Kudu ‘Good morning’ and were soon parked up at Lake Panic.

All the usual suspects were there including an enormous Hippo,

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Green-backed Heron,

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Grey Heron,

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Black Crake,

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Bushbuck,

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Squacco Heron,

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Crocodile,

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Weavers,

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and a Malachite Kingfisher.

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We were certainly glad we had wrapped up well as it can get very cold sitting here in the early morning. It was probably the reason we had the hide to ourselves for most of the time but our hot coffee helped to keep us from shivering. Eventually we needed to get back to camp to cook breakfast and load up the car again as we had only booked one night here. We were only moving down to Lower Sabie and with many hours until check-in time, could take a very circuitous route to get there.

The rain had stopped but it was cloudy and still pretty cool. Certainly the wildlife seemed to be in hiding today – probably hunkering down in heavy bush to keep warm. A Common Duiker was out grazing along the Doispane Road and along the S65 we found lots of Giraffe, Zebra,

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and a herd of Kudu.

Driving down to Transport Dam, we are rarely disappointed here. This morning we shared our day with Hippo, Waterbuck, Red-billed Buffalo Weavers, Lesser Black-faced Weavers, White-faced Ducks, Greater Egret, Egyptian Geese, Fish Eagles and Plated Lizards.

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Back to the tar we headed south along the H3 and only spotted Warthog before pulling into Afsaal for a pit stop and some lunch. Fed and watered, we returned to the car and took the H2-2 where several large Bull Ellies were about. Two of them were having a serious altercation and we made sure we had plenty of distance between them and us. It is almost shocking just how fast they can run and we did not want to run the risk of getting caught between the two of them.

At the next junction we took the S114 and headed north. We were hoping for some interesting sightings at Biyamiti Weir but it was very quiet today. Further north we spotted a solitary Bull Elephant

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and then a small breeding herd, a pair of Nyala, Steenbok and a couple of Hyenas. More Warthog along the Burne Road

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and 3 Cape Buffalo. A delightful Warthog family along the S108,

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a Lilac-breasted Roller feeding on the road,

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Ground Hornbills and another Ellie. When we reached the H4-2, we turned north with another Elephant Herd close to the road, Dung Beetles and Zebras. At the Lower Sabie bridge we found a place to stop to watch Hippo, Wire-tailed Swallows, Little Swifts, Pied Wagtail and displaying Egyptian Geese.

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Obviously love was very much in the air still.

At Sunset Dam lots of birds were feeding along the water’s edge – White-crowned Plover, Three-banded Plover,

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Sandpipers

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– and along the southern bank lay an enormous Crocodile.

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The time had flown by and we quickly parked near Reception and went to check in. It is a while since we have stayed at Lower Sabie – we like to get one of the Safari Tents with a view and they get booked up so quickly. We had been allocated Tent number 19. It had a view but only partial but we were disappointed at the condition of the actual tent as much of the front awning section had been badly torn.

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As had the back – :cry:

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The steps were falling apart –

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The braai stand was rusted through – :(

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And the wiring for the bedside lights was bordering on dangerous – :doh:

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Knowing what a problem Baboons and Vervets can be in the Safari Tent area, I hoped it would not cause us any difficulties. We unpacked the car with care and packed the food into the fridge, then bolted it all up. Time to pour out cold beers, watch the resident Heuglin’s Robins

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and light up the braai. With the Baboon issue still on my mind, we were doubly careful to lock up the fridge and cupboards again, wash up all the dishes and take the rubbish down to the main bin.

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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2014 6:38 pm 
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We knew you would love the Cheetahs - we just could not believe our luck. At first we had them to ourselves and then another vehicle approached but the cats were back from the road and hunting so they could not see them. We explained what they were doing and what direction so between the other vehicle and us we tracked them for about 20 mins and not another vehicle joined us at all. Just one of those memorable experiences that Kruger produces so often.

We love taking bird photos - at first it used to be for us to identify them fully when we got home but we are getting much better now. When family and friends who have never been to Africa look at them, they are always amazed at the huge range of birdlife that we see every day.

As for the tent - well the story continues next day - still writing it up but will soon be on the forum. Let's say it was another memorable experience but not one I wish to repeat in a hurry!!

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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Sat Apr 19, 2014 11:58 am 
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Hi,

For those of you who have followed this TR, I must apologise. I forgot to populate the images for the 27th Nov and post it to the website. :redface:

I have corrected my mistake and here is the missing episode.

WildImage

27th November

We were up bright and early, the sky was clear but it was very windy. Definitely needed to warm up a bit more before opening all the car windows! Staying on the tar road we headed for the high water bridge where a large troop of Baboons were grooming and playing.

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Luckily they had congregated at the very end of the bridge so we were able to get out to look down into the river bed but, this morning, it was very quiet. Perhaps they were keeping to deeper water or the bush to gain shelter from the wind. It was too cool for us and we were soon back in the warmth of the car.
Heading south we soon spotted a Steenbok close to the road and then a Red-crested Korhaan. A spotted Hyena had left her den in a culvert under the road and we stopped and switched off the engine. She looked as if she would have pups and we were thrilled when two pups did indeed come up onto the road.

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They were very young but very curious. I love watching Hyena families especially when the youngsters are just starting to come out of the den and you can see the adults keeping a maternal eye over them, only intervening when the pups have ventured too far. We had now been joined by several more cars so we moved on again, soon spotting a Red-backed Shrike and a couple of Saddle-billed Storks.

We pulled into Ngotso Dam for our coffee break. Although we could not see any wildlife about, it is a nice spot for a break. The day was beginning to warm up and we felt better after our hot coffee and biscuits. A solitary Wildebeest watched us drive past and then we were rewarded with a big cat sighting not too far from the road. Three adult Lionesses and 3 cubs were feeding from a carcass.

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They all looked extremely well fed and only the ribcage remained for consumption. I must admit to being a huge Lion fan and the antics of the male cub kept us entertained for a long while. The other cubs had obviously eaten their fill but ‘Greedy’ intended to keep on eating just so long as there was some meat still to be had; this is despite the fact that his stomach was so full, he could hardly move.

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This was such a lovely sighting and all the better that it was along that long open stretch of savannah between Olifants and Satara so that all the cars who were on the road could stop and see all the action. There was none of that to-ing and fro-ing trying to squeeze in between other cars just to get an obscured view and we could all stop one behind the other and enjoy. I am not a lover of road blockades and traffic jams at sightings – nor I suppose are any other visitors – and too often they bring out the worst in people.

Two Black-backed Jackals were circling around the pride, obviously hoping to get a bite to eat as well,

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and further down the road the Vultures perched in a tree were waiting for their own chance to feed.

Driving off again we passed Zebras and Wildebeest before popping into Satara for a comfort break. Back on the road we opted to try the S100 and we were certainly in luck this morning. Starting with a delightful Giraffe, then a large crèche of Impala lambs,

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Waterbuck,

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herds of Buffalo,

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Zebra

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and Wildebeest and then another pride of Lions. Having seen no cats up in the north, we were certainly making up for it today. We could only see 6 adult Lion but someone who had been watching them for a while thought there were 8. Once they all settle down under bushes or down in the long grass, it’s difficult to know for definite. As the traffic began to build up, we opted to move on again. A male Steenbok paused close to the road. We wished him ‘Good Morning’ and hoped he would keep away from the Lions we had just left.

We went to check who was about at Gudzani Dam – plenty this morning – Elephant,

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2 Fish Eagles,

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Vervets, Impala, Crocodile and a pair of Black Kites. Moving on to Gudzani East, a large herd of Zebra were drinking at the crib.

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This is shown as ‘dry’ now on the map but the earlier rains had perhaps filled it up.

Continuing north on the S41/S90 plenty more to see – Buffalo, Wildebeest, Magpie Shrikes,

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Waterbuck, Saddle-billed Storks, another YR JaniceE and her SO stopped for a chat.

We are always surprised when we read other peoples travel tales and they mention how few YRs they have seen. We have always been so lucky to meet so many Forumites when we are in Kruger and it is very special to stop for a chat , discuss sightings and put faces to names.

Still on the sand roads we found Namaqua Dove,

ImageNamaqua Dove by WildImageSANP, on Flickr

Warthogs, Kudu, an Ellie and his askari and, just for me, a Kori Bustard.

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We had hoped that the Balule causeway would have been repaired by the time we came for this trip but it was not to be. Causeways are great for unusual photographs as you are sitting so close to the water. Perhaps it will be repaired when we return later in the year...or is this wishful thinking on our part? So, it was back to the tar and another get-out at the high water bridge where a Hippo was out of the water, Waterbuck were coming down to drink and Yellow-billed Storks were feeding.

When we got back to Olifants camp, we were starving. It had been such a productive drive this morning that we had stayed out longer than usual. A slight hiccup though as we had no electricity and all our remaining food needed to be cooked rather than eaten raw. Really needing to eat something, we walked along to the Restaurant where we were told they did have facilities to cook so, we sat down at a table on the deck and ordered some lunch. So, what was our food like? Let’s just say we looked at each other and commented ‘This is why we self cater’.

After a rest and a shower we were back on the road and heading north on the S44 towards Letaba. Passing the small pond where the Terrapins all dash towards your car when you stop, the road then keeps much closer to the river. We stopped at the viewpoint for a quick look around, but nothing of note was seen (except a lesser-spotted ‘carolv’) [added by WildImage in the edit].

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Lots of Giraffe, Impala and Ellies all along the river bed and a nice European Roller in a tree.

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And then, as the road moves a bit further from the river, we came to a halt as a large breeding herd of Elephant were making their way along the road. Anxious to ensure we left them enough space, I reversed back but it was difficult to work out how far to go.
Ellies were emerging from the Mopani bushes everywhere and several other vehicles were now behind us as well.

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It took a long time but eventually the herd moved off the road and headed down to the direction of the river. Moving forward again, still on the lookout for a stray Elephant, we crept round a bend in the road and came face to face with a huge Bull.

Reverse, reverse, reverse!

Although he did not look too disturbed, we still had a trail of cars with us and he did not seem to have any intention of moving....anywhere. Then, when he did turn towards the side of the road, we could see he was in musth.

I think I’ll reverse a bit further back!

By this time we could see a traffic jam building up the other side of the Bull. I began to feel a bit more nervous at this stage and was very grateful to be in such a solid 4x4. We waited and waited but after half an hour or more had passed, we decided discretion was by far the better part of valour and did a U turn to drive back the road we had come along. I’m sure the Gate staff would have some sympathy if enough people arrived back at camp late due to an Elephant road block but best not to leave it too much to chance. Several other cars took the same action as us but a few remained – they could, of course, have been returning to Letaba. So, the car trail headed south again. We paused for a Banded Mongoose and then, a few kilometres down the road....another Elephant road block. My heart was racing for sure now but we had no choice but to keep our distance and pray the herd would be going down to the river....soon! Fortunately they did and eventually we made our way back to camp for a well earned dinner. What a day!

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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Sat Apr 19, 2014 1:42 pm 
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30th November

We had slept well but were woken by banging and crashing just outside our tent. It was still fairly dark and I was somewhat apprehensive as I opened the door very slightly to find out what was happening. As suspected I came face to face with several adult Baboons creating havoc on our stoep. From somewhere they had found food and wrappings which were being eaten and discarded everywhere. Other Baboons were jumping up and down on the tent roof, then swinging from the now- shredded awning. As you can imagine, I got back into the Tent as quickly as possible – I have no wish to have a face-to-face disagreement with a Baboon, certainly not a small troop of them. Quickly dressing but waiting for them to move away from the deck, I went back outside to try and clear up. The mess was awful and much muttering went on about whoever had left food out for the wildlife, or, at least, somewhere they could easily find it. If our tent had looked somewhat worse for wear when we arrived, it looked considerably worse now. Feeling more than a little unnerved by the experience and still too early to discuss the situation with Reception, I made up a flask of coffee and we went out for a morning drive. My heart was still racing and I needed to calm down!

We headed south on the tar towards Crocodile Bridge. Just an occasional Elephant coming up from the river but a quiet morning so far. We turned up the little road to the back of Gezantfombi Dam for our coffee break. A good place to sit, watch and wait in the early morning and we have been very lucky with sightings over the years. This morning we found Zebra,

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Wildebeest, Impala, Egyptian Geese, Grey Hornbills

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and Saddle-billed Storks.

Refreshed and ready to move on, we tried our luck on the S28. Plenty of company today – Giraffe,

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Wildebeest, Zebra, Hyena, Wattled Starlings, Magpie Shrikes,

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Bull Elephant,

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Baboons (not in my good books though) Warthogs and a Bataleur.

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After re-joining the tar more Ellies were making their way down to the river, Fish Eagles posed in trees, Bushbucks grazing a Buffalo in the river. At Sunset Dam Large pods of Hippo, Grey Heron,

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various Plovers, Yellow-billed Storks, Water Monitor

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and a Diederick Cuckoo.

However, it was time to tackle Reception and cook breakfast. We explained our concerns to the SANP staff but the only response we got was that ‘They would send someone over to have a look’. Whilst we did not expect an urgent response, we had hoped our complaint would be considered less dismissively. Back at the tent I began cooking, keeping a lookout for any unwanted visitors. One of the cleaning ladies stopped to chat as she could see the disarray all about. I explained what had happened and hoped we had manage to clear up as much mess as possible. She told us they had been trying to get things repaired for a while but nothing had happened. Surely we could not have been the only guests raising this issue. SANP happily raise the prices year in year out but they must surely take maintenance more seriously than this. Perhaps someone would actually come out to look at our tent during the day.

Still, we were here for the wildlife and we headed north along the H10. Lots of Ellies about and we stopped to photograph baby Striped Swallows who were perched along the length of the bridge being fed by their parents.

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Moving on, we waited patiently for a large Elephant herd to cross the road

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and then saw a traffic jam up ahead.....Wild Dogs! Fantastic!

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Just a small pack and they were sleeping close to the road but so many cars parked around them that we did not stay long. Along the S29 Dung Beetles were busy manoeuvring balls across the track

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and Giraffes browsing.

Crossing over to the S30, a road we had not driven down for some time but offered lots of surprises today. First Kudu,

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then we stopped alongside another car who had been following a Leopard but it had just disappeared into the bush. Story of our life this trip as we waited and waited but it did not reappear. While we were waiting I took a shot of some fungi growing out of some Elephant dung.

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Moving on, we sensed movement in a wooded area back from the road and were amazed to see a single Sable. Impossible to get any sort of photo but what a joy to find this morning. A young Steenbok peered at us through the long grass and 3 Ground Hornbills were close to the High water bridge.

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We had booked a Sunset drive this evening and now headed back to camp for a rest and to cook dinner. As a matter of interest nothing had been changed or repaired at our tent and we assumed our complaint had fallen on very deaf ears. Has anyone stayed at Safari Tent 19 recently and has it been repaired now I wonder?

Our Sunset Drive was with Jacob but we were amazed to find that there were only 5 of us going out – ourselves and 3 Tasmanians who were great company. Since the costs for these drives have increased so much, we have definitely noticed that far fewer people are going out.

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What have other Forumites found? Have you had the same experience?

It was an interesting drive albeit the only cat we found was an African Wild Cat. I cannot recall ever going out on a drive from Lower Sabie before when we didn’t find either Lions or Leopards. Just shows you should not make assumptions as to what you will find in a particular area but we did spot lots of Ellies, Buffalo, Zebras,

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Grey Duiker, Hippo,

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Steenboks, Giraffe,

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Vultures and 17 White Rhino...yes 17!! In fact Rhinos had been the stars of our day and at one location we had watched a fascinating encounter. A trio of Rhino (mother, father and calf) were happily feeding when another Bull Rhino intruded and the two males were setting up for a fight. We spent a long time with them and were mesmerised by their interaction. Eventually the single Bull gave up and walked away from the other 3. Realistically we would have hated it to have come to a fight to the death but it was an unforgettable experience watching the drama unfold.

A selection of the Rhinos we saw today:

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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2014 8:49 pm 
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1st December

Overnight there had been an impressive thunderstorm with very heavy rain and it was still raining at 8am. We had enjoyed such a busy day yesterday and had slept well but were had a rude awakening by the troop of Baboons jumping up and down on top of our tent and on the stoep. They were beginning to unnerve me and we were praying one of them would not suddenly fall through the actual roof itself. Imagine being trapped in there with one of them....no, it doesn’t bear thinking about. We still had another night booked here but we were seriously thinking about trying to change it. Eventually the primates tired of our tent as a playground and moved on, allowing us to get coffee and food ready for our morning drive.

We took the main road south and then turned onto the S82. A family of Warthogs were up and about


and then, right next to the track, so close we could have stroked them, 3 male Lions.

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Now where were they when we were hunting for cats last night! They were looking very well nourished so probably hidden back in the bush with a large dinner to consume. On the road we could se some of their tracks.

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Driving on, we rejoined the main road and headed south until turning onto the S130 where plenty of birds and animals were around to greet us – Vultures, Guinea Fowl,

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Warthogs,

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Woodland Kingfishers,

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Dung Beetles, Zebras,

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a mischievous Dwarf Mongoose family,

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a large tusker, Steenbok

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and Hamerkop.

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A Giraffe group

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and a juvenile Martial Eagle

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were spotted along the S137 and calling into the Ntandanyathi Hide had great fun and games trying to photograph a Vine Snake which was wrapped around the branches of a shrub just below the hide itself.

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SO was convinced it was dead as it did not respond to all the chatter and clicks in the Hide (it was very busy this morning) and only when everyone else had departed, did it decide to have a rearrangement of its position.

Back on the road we waited for 2 Tortoises to cross in front of our vehicle

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then stopped to admire a lovely Steenbok

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and more Warthogs.

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At Sunset Dam we found Wire-tailed Swallows,

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Yellow-billed Storks,

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Greater Egret, Black-winged Stilt, Hippos and a Leguaan.

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Driving south for a short distance we paused on the bridge to enjoy several Ellies enjoying the water.

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A Brown Snake Eagle watched us along the S128 after which we turned onto the S30 in the hope that we would find the Sable again. He was nowhere to be seen though this morning but we found a quiet spot further along to stop for coffee and a sandwich. I love the way you can just find a place to park up and then sit and wait to see who comes along – Giraffes, Knob-billed Ducks,

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Hadeda Ibis,

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Ground Hornbills,

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Kudu and Saddle-billed Storks.

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Moving on we drove to Skukuza for a comfort break and to do a bit of food shopping. Heading back towards Lower Sabie we passed more Ellies, Impala lambs,

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Steenbok and then joined a queue of cars which were looking towards a large tree near the river. Hanging halfway up the tree on a large branch was an dead Impala. Needless to say everyone was hoping the Leopard would return to enjoy its food but we were not in luck this afternoon. Since we were yet to see any Leopard on this trip so far, it added somewhat to our frustration but, as we are always telling people, this is not a Zoo. We did, however, meet another YR amongst the traffic jam...GLSmit. I do hope I have not misspelt your name and it was lovely to have a quick chat. Pausing for another Elephant herd to cross the road, we made our way back to camp to light up the braai and pack up ready for departure in the morning. I am sad to say that we would not be sorry to leave this accommodation and really hope something would be done to improve its faults sooner rather than later.

During the day we had met the Rhino family again

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– happily enjoying each other’s company and no sign of an intruding Bull (or was there?).

Image

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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Sat Apr 26, 2014 2:50 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Mon Mar 06, 2006 11:12 am
Posts: 271
Location: HAMPSHIRE UK
Award: Sighting of the Year - Small creatures and/or insects (2012)
2nd December

Although we would be moving to another camp today, it was no great distance and we opted for a very early morning drive and breakfast on the stoep before finally leaving. Initially we headed north from Lower Sabie towards the Leopard kill. The kill was indeed still in place but absolutely no sign of the Leopard. Keeping to the tar road northwards, it was a very quiet morning – a small troop of Baboons, an Ellie en route to the river, Ground Hornbills and a pair of Hadeda Ibis. All quiet as we crossed the High water Sabie bridge and took the S30 southwards. A Wahlberg’s Eagle was perched in a tree, no doubt looking for a tasty breakfast.

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We stopped at the same waterhole area as yesterday for our coffee and munchies. As we welcomed our caffeine fix, we were joined by a herd of Impala with lambs,

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Warthogs, Baboons, Giraffe, Bataleurs,

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Vultures, a Wahlberg’s Eagle being mobbed by 2 Fork-tailed Drongos,

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Ellies, Kudu

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and Klipspringer.

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Ready to move on again, we found Giraffe,

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Ellies,

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Black-bellied Korhaan,

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Hyenas, yet more Korhaans – both Black-bellied and Red-crested – Giant Kingfisher,

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Crocodiles and on the Lower Sabie bridge,

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Wire-tailed Swallows

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and pods of Hippo in the river.

Back at camp I cooked breakfast and then we loaded up the car. We were in two minds about our departure – nothing at all had been done about our tent problems and we had concerns about what would await the next occupants of this safari tent. When we return in 2014 it would certainly be a consideration as to whether we stay at LS or not; also I will be guiding for a group of newbies in April 2015 and I have huge reservations as to whether I would book these tents for them or not.

We paused briefly at Sunset Dam – all the usual suspects, so many birds, hippo pods and Buffalo cooling off in the water.

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Driving north along the tar, we were ‘flashed’ by a vehicle driving in the opposite direction. It was another YR – Raymond who had been the Head Guide at Berg-en-Dal but is now leading on the Wolhuters Trail. It was lovely to catch up with his news.

Turning onto the S21 westwards, we watched a big old Buffalo trying to scratch his itchy boss on a small tree. He was really going at it and the poor tree was suffering from his attentions.

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We then paused for a large breeding herd of Ellies,

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then found a pair of Yellow-billed Kites, Hammerkop, Violet-backed Starlings, more Ellies, Tortoise and just before Renosterkoppies 3 male Lions sleeping.

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Turning south onto the S114 we headed towards Biyamiti Weir passing Wire-tailed Swallows gathering mud for nest building,

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Bataleur, Ellies, Fish Eagles and Hadeda Ibis. At the Weir we stopped for a lunch break. Finally moving onwards again we turned onto the S139 as we were now booked into Biyamiti camp – lots of Ellies

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and Hippos

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back and forth from the river along the way as well as a solitary Steenbok.

During the day we had found several Rhino and were privileged to spend some time with all of them.

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At Biyamiti we checked in quickly and drove down to cottage number 4 to unpack and pour out cold beers to enjoy sitting on the stoep and looking out across the river bed. This is one of our favourite camps and it is so peaceful.

_________________
http://www.sanparks.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=27&t=77459Our 2013 Trip Report
... and how I miss being back in the KNP.


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